Wednesday 4 January 2017

A Designer to Watch: Interview with Nicklas Kunz

Soul connection on the runway, models wearing Nicklas Kunz's form-fitting SS17 collection in Copenhagen. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen. Cover picture by Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
As London men's fashion week is getting ready to open the runway season for 2017, our Fashion Editor Limor Helfgott interviews talented Danish designer Nicklas Kunz about his life in Denmark and his cosmopolitan collections creatively inspired by the urban jungle, African tribes, sartorial couture and American rap music

Designer Nicklas Kunz. Photo: Limor Helfgott
NICKLAS Kunz's dark and masculine aesthetic creates bold, contemporary designs. Today he is based in Copenhagen while he originally did a BA (Hons) in England and then an MA at the Kolding School of Design. He worked with designers such as the avant-garde Henrik Vibskov before launching his first collection in 2012 in New York. Kunz's latest work is inspired by streetwear, rap music and sports clothes' fluidity ~ all elements he transforms into his beautifully-cut creations, finished with a close attention to sartorial detail. They manage to exude both sophistication and ruggedness.

"When a garment is put on a model ~ as they are wearing it ~ that second when it all comes together is a moment like no other, godliness"

Kunz's SS17 Soul Inflamed collection shown in Denmark's capital during Copenhagen Fashion Week, uses jersey, mesh and neoprene with dramatic color-blocking in black, white and red, heightening the effect of well-tailored bomber jackets, leather coats and cropped pants plus sinous sportwear. Kunz likes to imagine he is dressing the urban warrior with asymmetrical designs, the line and cut metaphors for African tribes' war paint and scars.

 Photo; Jesper Bang-p Thortzen
1. Where did you grow up and does this place still influence your creations? 
I grew up in Albertslund, a suburb in Copenhagen.We called it the concrete jungle, my home address back then was named Blokland. But I learnt to observe and interact with really deep souls and that shows in my creations I think.

2. When did you first realise you wanted to work in fashion?
Right after I thought about being a fashion buyer as they control what is in fashion as they put items in shops. But I thought "why buy it when you can make it" ~ and then I was heading into the world of fashion. I have always had the knack to see the potential of designs in clothing and shoes before they are in fashion or become a trend.

Photo: Jesper Bang-p Thortzen
3. At the beginning of your career, how did you break into the fashion world?
After pieces from my first collection were worn by American rapper Kendrick Lamar. Then I started to focus on the long term and now I would like to work with Eminem as he is the other inspiration to my life being an adolescent in Blokland.

4. What aspect of creation gives you the most happiness?
I enjoy making leather jackets, long ones: when a garment is put on a model ~ as they are wearing it ~ that second when it all comes together is a moment like no other, godliness.

"I think the only way to do fashion is by mixing instinct with rationality"

5. What do you find the most challenging aspect of your work? Hours in a day ~ when I’m creating something unique, I always want to explore it even further. 

Masculine stole. Photo:Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
6. Can you describe the experience, person or training that has had the greatest impact on your career?
My first mentor who was a weekly guest teacher at my BA training in England, Fred Spurr. He was a grad student from the Royal College of Art and he designed outfits for Queen’s front man Freddie Mercury. He showed and taught me how to be a fashion designer always looking to create something extraordinary.

"I hope wearing even our most simple garment will change how you look and feel. I like to think the designs make you feel like a lion rather than a cub"

Leader of the pack. Photo:Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
7. Describe what your studio is like and whether you have a set schedule of working everyday? Or is the process more fluid?
The studio is full of fabric rolls, inspirational prints and drawings but I work best with a fluid yet scheduled way of working. The only thing that I’m focused on every day: process, deadline and execution.

8. Do you find your creative process is more rational or instinctive?
Both, as I'm always working, even on my bike ride to and from the studio, I can't help seeing potential new looks and cuts. I think the only way to do fashion is by mixing instinct with rationality.

Black & White. Photo:Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
9. What type of man is wearing Nicklas Kunz?
A bold man who has a sense of style, sophistication and who wants to stand out. I hope wearing even our most simple garment will change how you look and feel. I like to think the designs make you feel like a lion rather than a cub ~ regardless of sex as we also do womenswear.

10. How would you describe working as a men’s fashion designer in the ever changing fashion industry today? Will your brand be a part of the ‘see now buy now’ movement?
We have already done the ‘see now, buy now’ with the SS17 collection. We had three pieces which went online right after our SJÆL I FLAMMER / soul inflamed fashion show ended. The AW17 collection will be featured during Copenhagen fashion week in February and all items from the collection will be online right after the release. I don’t focus that much on changes as true fashion is timeless. Alexander McQueen taught me that.

Tap photographs for full-screen slideshow
Asymmetry in charcoal, grey and black. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen 

Colour blocking with a vibrant red. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen  

All white with zips and mesh: too cool for school. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen 

Long, leather jacket with a Mondrian like pattern. Photograph by Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
 The fluidity and comfort of sportswear with a dash of avant-garde style. Photograph by Victoria Vogel Salomonsen

New urban warrior. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen  

Metaphorical tribal cuts representing African tribes but in the urban jungle. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen 
Add Strong colour and jersey's fluidity adds another layer to the streetwear/sportswear aesthetic.Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen 
dSubtle details and an all-white sports ensemble. Photograph by Victoria Vogel Salomonsen
A black and dark grey sheen takes this to a new level of stylish rapper on the town. Photograph by Jesper Bang-p Thortzen 

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.